Archdiocese submits Synod report with feedback from listening sessions, survey
July 12, 2022
HOUSTON — Following months of facilitator trainings and listening sessions for the Synod on Synodality, the Archdiocese recently submitted a report reflecting the voluminous feedback and findings from thousands of voices in the local Church.
The Synod, themed “communion/participation/mission,” is a two-year process of listening and dialogue that will conclude in 2023. Pope Francis invited the entire Church to reflect on a theme that is decisive for its life and mission. The deadline for the submission of diocesan reports was June 30. (See sidebar for more information and timeline on local Synod process).
As noted in the introductory text featured in the local report, “a synodal Church is the path along which the people of God walk or journey together to announce the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
The local journey in reporting on these listening sessions has required coordination – along with dedicated committee work and technology. In Galveston-Houston, the synodal synthesis report team was comprised of listening session facilitator trainers, Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC) members, a theologian and a parish lay volunteer.
All listening sessions and survey responses, along with any individual submissions, were uploaded into a software for review in a “qualitative research-style format,” according to Jim Barrette, secretariat director of Pastoral and Educational Ministries for the Archdiocese and Archdiocesan Synod Contact.
Utilizing the computer-assisted coding process of qualitative research, each member of the six-member team was asked to synthesize responses to one or two questions from the listening session questions. One member read each of the survey submissions and formed a synthesis based on the questions that the survey included, which were different than the ones in the listening sessions.
“Once each member had their content for a synthesis, they developed a document with a summary of the synthesis,” Barrette said. “All the summaries were reviewed by our writer and combined into a document with a consistent style but encompassing the content as well as salient quotations.”
Barrette noted that one consistent theme present in the listening session and survey data was the sincere gratitude that arose from the very many participants — “their gratitude for the opportunity to be heard, to be listened to in a way that is reverenced in the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
While participants also noted the ways we often exclude others without noticing or acknowledging that they are set apart, the session and survey feedback also presented a shared hope that this type of “listening” on the parish and Archdiocesan level will continue, Barrette said.
The Archdiocesan reports are already in the process of being summarized into regional reports. Once all the regional reports are received and reviewed at the national level, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will publish the national report for the Synod.
Barrette said the Archdiocesan report will also be utilized by the APC for planning purposes in the future.
“In addition, there is data that could be analyzed with other frameworks to glean more information for planning,” he said. “Individual parishes could also review the data from the listening sessions from their own parish to assist them with their pastoral planning.”